The Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria has threatened to embark on an indefinite strike to protest the non-payment of their N200bn promotion and salaries and death benefits.
The National Executive Council of the ASCSN, which took the decision during its meeting in Abuja on Wednesday, also decided to picket the Ministry of Finance and the Budget Office, which the workers believed were subverting the express directives of the President to release funds to pay several arrears owed them.
The Federal Capital Territory Secretary of the association, Ojemhenka Isaac, who read the decision to journalists said the money approved by the National Assembly to pay the arrears was diverted to pay contractors for unknown projects.
The President of the ASCSN, Bala Kaigama, who doubles as the President of the Trade Union Congress, told journalists after the meeting that the ASCSN, an affiliate Union of the TUC, would collaborate with the NLC to carry out the planned industrial action.
“Yes, the picketing would be done and I will lead it because this thing has taken so long. The idea of the payment of arrears of promotions, death benefits, first 28 days, started as soon as the President was sworn in.”
Kaigama stated that the picketing of the Ministry of Finance and the Budget Office would be followed by a strike, adding that the dates for actions would be worked out later.
According to him, the arrears, owed the workers, were not paid even when the President directed the Head of Service to work out the details with unions and to commence payment.
He explained that when submissions on the issue were made to the government, the government argued that there was no budgetary provision for the payment of the arrears.
Kaigama said, “We wrote to Mr. President; he responded positively and then directed the Office of the Head of Service to sit with us and work out the details. The details were worked out through the MDAs and our representatives at the MDA level and submissions were made to the Office of the Head of Service.
“That was done, then the National Assembly approved a virement but a chunk of the money was earmarked for the settlement of part of these arrears. But today, the explanation they are giving us is that the virement approved by the National Assembly has lapsed; that it is only capital projects that it (virement) can accommodate, it cannot accommodate overhead.
“In fact, except if the National Assembly intervenes now, there is a tendency that even this year’s budget may not capture these issues. And that is why we have decided that enough is enough. We are going to picket where we know the problems are.
“Mr President has directed; the delay we have now is between Finance and Budget. So, if we picket these offices, somebody must come out to tell us the truth so that the whole world will know where the problem is; and on this we stand.”
When asked if the NLC was involved in the planned action, he said, “Of course, in fact I am even meeting with him (NLC’s President) this afternoon to brief him on that and it is going to be a joint action with the NLC, be rest assured that the NLC would cooperate with us in this struggle.’’
On the new Minimum Wage, Kaigama said the Federal Government and organised Labour would meet on the issues of the constitution of the tripartite committee and the palliatives to reduce the effect of the fuel price increase on Nigerians on May 9, 2017.
He stated that it was the expectation of organised Labour that the tripartite committee was set up by the end of the month if the government meant to do it.